Recently, the Italian Prime Minister has proposed Corona bonds to be issued by European Union (EU) to deal with the situation created by Covid-19.
Corona bonds are joint debt issued to member states of the EU.
This would be mutualised debt, taken collectively by all member states of the EU.
The funds would come from the European Investment Bank.
Countries like Italy, Spain which have suffered huge deaths due to Covid-19 are demanding such kind of economic measures from the EU to meet the extraordinary situation.
However, Germany, Netherlands, Austria and Finland, also known as the “Frugal Four”, the fiscally conservative EU states have opposed such type of idea.
Amendments to the J&K Order
The Ministry of Home Affairs has amended the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Adaptation of State Laws) Order-2020.
The Order was issued by the Ministry on 31st March, 2020.
Protection to domiciles to “any post” in the government including senior level positions in Group A and Group B category. This reserves all jobs in the Union Territory for only its domiciles.
Earlier the protection to domiciles was provided only in Group D and entry level non-gazetted government posts. This opened all other government posts to anyone from the rest of the country.
The amended order also removed the clause that any person fulfilling the criteria of domicile eligibility will “deemed to be” a domicile. The power to issue domicile certificates has been given to “tahsildar”.
MP’s Salaries Cut and MPLADS Suspended
Recently, the Union Cabinet has approved an ordinance to amend the Salaries, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament Act, 1954.
It will cut the salaries of Members of Parliament (MPs) by 30%, effective from 1st April 2020.
Apart from this, it has been decided to suspend the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) funds for two financial years (2020-21 to 2021-22).
The saved amount will go to the Consolidated Fund of India to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
It is applicable to all MPs, including the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers, for the financial year 2020-2021.
The President and Vice-President of India along with all the State Governors, have also decided on their own to take a 30% salary cut.
However, the amendment will only cut MPs’ salaries, not allowances or the pensions of ex-MPs.
According to the pay hike in 2018, each MP draws a monthly salary of ₹1 lakh, ₹70,000 as constituency allowance and ₹60,000 for running office besides other perks.
The amount saved from the scheme would be around ₹8,000 crore and will be redirected to the Consolidation Fund.
Many MPs had already pledged to use their MPLADS funds for efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
74 Rajya Sabha members had contributed a total of ₹100 crore, and 265 Lok Sabha members had given a total of ₹265 crore.
Currently, the Lok Sabha has 542 members while the Rajya Sabha has a strength of 245 members, including 12 nominated.
The comprehensive decision was taken to convey the message of social responsibility of the MPs.
The salary cut has been supported throughout the country. However, the suspension of MPLADS has been criticised on the grounds that it is a disservice to the constituents and will undermine the role and functions of the MPs. It is the centralisation of funds which goes against federalism.
Animals and Covid-19
Owing to a recent news report on a Tiger being infected with Covid-19 in New York (Bronx Zoo), the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has issued an advisory regarding the containing and management of Covid-19 in National Parks/Sanctuaries/Tiger Reserves.
Also, a tiger in Pench Tiger Reserve (Madhya Pradesh) has died due to respiratory illness. The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) is investigating whether the tiger should be tested for the novel coronavirus disease.
However, swabs from the throat and nose to test for rhinotracheitis, a viral infection that afflicts cats and causes respiratory illness were collected.
Spread of Infection from humans to animals:
The Bronx Zoo case suggests that a zoo employee spread the virus to the tiger.
The virus came from an animal source and mutated; humans have since been infecting humans. Thus, it is theoretically possible for the virus to mutate again to survive in certain species after being transmitted by humans.
Advisory by the MInistry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change:
It has asked all Chief Wildlife Wardens (CWLWs) of all States/UTs to take immediate preventive measures to stop the transmission and spread of the virus from humans to animals and vice versa, in National Parks/Sanctuaries and Tiger Reserves.
The CWLW is the statutory authority under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 who heads the Wildlife Wing of a State Forest Department and exercises complete administrative control over Protected Areas (PAs) within a state.
World Health Day
Every year 7th April marks the celebration of World Health Day.
Its idea was conceived at the First Health Assembly in 1948 and it came into effect in 1950.
Aim: To create awareness of a specific health theme to highlight a priority area of concern for the World Health Organization (WHO).
Over the years, it has brought to light important health issues such as mental health, maternal and child care and climate change.
Theme for 2020: Support Nurses and Midwives.
2020 has been designated as the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.
This year, the day celebrates the work of nurses and midwives and reminds world leaders of the critical role they play in keeping the world healthy.
On the Day, the ‘State of the World’s Nursing 2020’ report has been launched.
WHO and its partners will make a series of recommendations to strengthen the nursing and midwifery workforce.
Nurses and other health workers are at the forefront of Covid-19 response-providing high quality, respectful treatment and care, leading community dialogue to address fears and questions and collecting data for clinical studies.
Mahavir Jayanti is one of the most auspicious festivals in the Jain community.
This day marks the birth of Vardhamana Mahavira, who was the 24th and the last Tirthankara who succeeded the 23rd Tirthankara, Parshvanatha.
According to Jain texts, Lord Mahavira was born on the 13th day of the bright half of the moon in the month of Chaitra.
As per the Gregorian calendar, Mahavir Jayanti is usually celebrated during the month of March or April. In 2020, Mahavir Jayanti was celebrated on 6th of April.
A procession is called with the idol of Lord Mahavira called the Rath Yatra.
Reciting stavans or Jain prayers, statues of the lord are given a ceremonial bath called abhisheka.
Mahavira taught ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truth), asteya (non-stealing), brahmacharya (chastity) and aparigraha (non-attachment) to his disciples and his teachings were called Jain Agamas.
Ordinary people were able to understand the teachings of Mahavira and his followers because they used Prakrit.
It is believed that the Mahavira passed away and attained moksha (liberation from the cycle of birth and death) at the age of 72 in 468 BC at a place called Pavapuri near modern Rajgir in Bihar.
RBI to set up Wing for banking fraud oversight
Reserve Bank of India is planning to set up exclusive wing for banking fraud oversight. Nothing official has been revealed in this regard.
What may be the composition of this wing?
It may have teams for meta-data processing and analysis, artificial intelligence analysis units, as well as pro-active risk assessment cell. Experts from the private sector working in all these domains will be roped in to train the new members in the fraud oversight wing.
Why there is a need for separate wing for fraud oversight?
After the loan fiasco at Punjab National Bank, the RBI had been mulling ways to pro-actively detect such frauds. As part of that plan, the banking regulator had late last year moved to create a separate cadre of its own employees who would work in regulation and oversight sections. With the latest Yes Bank crisis, it has been felt even more necessary to have such a wing at the earliest to protect the consumer interests.